As there is a lot of material, I'm going to put this in three posts. Let's start with the deeper, more navel gazing types of revelations.
- Finding Our Way to Travel - As I mentioned in earlier posts, it was amazing how energized this trip made us feel. I think we have discovered that there is a process that really seems to fulfill all we are trying to gain from travel. That process is going somewhere, going through the initial 24 hours or so of trying to get oriented, followed by another day or two of gradually feeling we have this particular locale understood, followed by another day or two of saying, "Yes, we got this one figured out, we like it, don't like it, would come back, wouldn't come back", after which we are ready to move on. There is something about this process that results in our being stimulated but not overwhelmed and is deeply gratifying too.
- Self-Planning Opens the Door for Experiences - We had so many amazing serendipitous experiences that totally enriched this trip. And I can point to all of them as being a result of our doing our own planning. I am the first to admit that I enjoy doing the travel planning and making all our arrangements. But it also allows us to get ourselves into places that would normally not be on the travel radar screen. And it is these places where we keep running into the experiences that are so enriching.
- We Miss Our Physical Capabilities - When we first were dreaming about traveling like this a decade and a half ago, both Wife and I were big time into hiking. We dreamed of going around the world and being able to combine our travel and hiking loves. Sadly our bodies gave out and hiking a lost pastime long before we got to our ability to travel. We are very, very thankful for the physical ability to do what we still can do. But there is hardly a day that passes on our travels where we encounter something that requires climbing or walking that is now not realistically things we can do.
- Smaller Versus Larger - There is certainly a point as far as the size and density of a city, its complexity and just the sheer mass of people where Wife and I both kind of shut down. It's hard to pinpoint exactly where this point is. It's not as if we only want to be in small towns and villages. Far from it. We like being in places where they have metros, tram systems and relatively easy to use buses. On this trip for example, Taipei which has 2.7 million in population and 7 million in the region, seemed to us very approachable. While Tokyo with over 13 million in its prefecture and over 37 million in its metropolitan area was just too much.
- Developed Versus Underdeveloped - We find we are somewhat conflicted on our enjoyment of going to a developed country like Taiwan versus an underdeveloped country such as Indonesia (Bali). In a developed country we have significantly more freedom of movement, to get around on our own, sometimes driving, other times using public transportation and always walking. In an underdeveloped country we need to have drivers and walking is much more difficult and dangerous. Water and eating are safe in developed countries. You have to be careful in underdeveloped countries. The starkness of difference in our level of economic well-being and what is encountered in developing countries can weigh on you. But some of the best experiences we've had and most interesting things we've done have been in developing countries.